Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seeing happy makes me happy

Last week I helped proctor a placement test for students over 21 years old. Proctoring gives me the excuse to look closely at people who are concentrating so hard they don't know I'm watching them, a mildly voyeuristic delight--it's rare to get the chance to actually look at a stranger. I distinctly remember two of the guys in the room: one because he was the dead spit of Mr. Tumnus (without the goat legs and horns, of course) AND he pulled out an actual handkerchief at one point to clean his glasses, which was just adorable; and the other because he looked just like a minor character in the book I was revising last week.

Summer term classes started today, and this morning the minor-character guy showed up in the study area outside my office. I overheard him ask if it was okay if he hung out there for an hour while he waited for his next class to start, which of course it was, and he sat down and spread his books out to study.

All this is rather ordinary except that it's not every day you see a guy who looks just like a minor-character. But the thing is, this guy was happy. Not in a goofy way or an excited way or anything like that. It was just clear that on this particular day, all was right with the world for him.

I kept thinking of him all day, and every time I did I felt good too. It's deeply satisfying to see a person taking joy in something so innocent and good as starting college classes for the first time. Godspeed, guy-who-looks-just-like-Alex. May the happiness you feel today last you for the rest of your life, and may your academic career bloom like the hyperactive rosebush in my front yard.

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